Establishing an Effective Continuing Care Process

Learn how to use the Dentrix Continuing Care List to contact patients who are due for recall.

Having an effective way to contact recall patients is important. Automated text and e-mail reminders using Dentrix Patient Engage can make that task easier. However, there will still be a need for you to contact patients by phone to schedule their recall appointment. You can use the Dentrix Continuing Care List to find and contact patients who are due for recall, but who don’t yet have an appointment scheduled.

An effective way to use this list is to update the continuing care status for each patient you contact to indicate what action was taken last, and let your staff know what action should happen next.

Continuing care statuses assist you in tracking where patients are in the stages of your recall process. Not only can continuing care statuses help you to mark where you are in your list, but they can also tell you what action needs to be taken next. I recommend that you create the following continuing care statuses: Call 1; Call 2; Call 3; and Letter Sent. (For information on how to create a continuing care status, click HERE.) These four statuses will help you know where in the contact process your patients are. Because Dentrix limits you to ten continuing care statuses, I recommend you add the four statuses I described and use the remaining six statuses for common situations you find in your office, for example, when you left message on voicemail.

After you have added these continuing care statuses, generate a Continuing Care List by selecting the Continuing Care icon in the Appointment Book.

Another thing you can do is to create Continuing Care Views that will generate lists of patients based on the date ranges that correspond with the statuses you created (Due this month, 30 past due, 60 days past due, 90 days past due).

Here’s how you can use the new statuses you created when working through your continuing care list. The first week of the month, call patients who are due for a prophy this month, and when you get a hold of them, change their continuing care status to Call 1. This lets your team know this patient has received one phone call to schedule their Continuing Care but have not scheduled an appointment yet. The second week of the month contact patients who are thirty days past due and change their status to Call 2. This lets your team know that this patient has been called twice but have not scheduled an appointment, and your office will make one more phone call to attempt to schedule the patient for Continuing Care. On the third week of the month, contact those patients who are sixty days past due and change their status to Call 3. On the fourth week of the month send a letter to the patients who are ninety days past due, and change their status to Letter Sent.

When you use this combination of continuing care views to find patients who are due, and then update their statuses as you attempt to contact them, you will ensure that all patients are being contacted regularly (at least monthly). By implementing the continuing care statuses as described above, anyone in your office can look at the Continuing Care List and know what the next step should be for that patient (after you’ve taken the time to explain the process to them).

When contacting patients using the Continuing Care List, it’s important that you not only update their continuing care status, but also to document the phone call in the patient’s Office Journal which is accessible from the Continuing Care list.

One final suggestion I would give you is to designate a staff member to be responsible for Continuing Care. The Schedule Coordinator in the office is often a good choice. He or she should contact patients using the Continuing Care lists every week. Staying on top of the recall system is an important job to ensure patients are being seen on regular intervals. This will help to keep your hygiene schedule full, as well as give your doctor an opportunity to diagnose potential treatment plans. It’s a good idea to have one team member responsible for this. That way you can hold that team member accountable. It also eliminates too many team members being involved in this task. If too many employees have their hand in Continuing Care, it can create an opportunity for mistakes as different people have different ways of doing things.

Contacting patients who are due for Continuing Care on a consistent basis is a good way to keep your hygienist’s schedule full, and to let your patients know you care about their oral health.


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By Charlotte Skaggs
Certified Dentrix Trainer and The Dentrix Office Manager columnist

Charlotte Skaggs is the founder of Vector Dental Consulting LLC, a practice management firm focused on taking offices to the next level. Charlotte co-owned and managed a successful dental practice with her husband for 17 years. She has a unique approach to consulting based on the perspective of a practice owner. Charlotte has been using Dentrix for over 20 years and is a certified Dentrix trainer. Contact Charlotte at vectordentalconsulting@gmail.com.